NORTH CAROLINA IN THE OFFICE OF
COUNTY OF MECKLENBURG 01 DHR 1750
EVELIA WILLIAMS, )
NORTH CAROLINA DEPARTMENT )
OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES )
This matter came on for hearing before James L. Conner, II, Administrative Law Judge,
in Mecklenburg County, North Carolina, on June 3, 2002. Petitioner was present and proceeded
pro se. Respondent was represented by its Attorney, R. Kirk Randleman.
Whether there was error in Gaston County Social Services’ substantiation of abuse and
neglect charges against Petitioner or in Respondent’s revocation of Petitioner’s Family Foster
Home license based thereupon.
STATUTES AND RULES AT ISSUE
N.C. Gen. Stat. Chapter 131D.
10 N.C.A.C. 41F .0702(a) & .0807(a)
The court, after hearing evidence presented by the parties, examining exhibits of the
parties, and hearing argument of counsel, makes the following:
FINDINGS OF FACT
1. Petitioner, Evelia Williams, had been licensed as a Family Foster Care Home for
some time prior to the incident at the heart of this matter. She had cared for several other
children over the years, with no problems. In fact, she is the sort of foster parent the State needs
to care for the children placed in its care. Ms. Williams has two other girls in her care, who are
believed by the State to be well cared for.
2. Ms. Williams is a teacher at the Fletcher School, a school for children with mental or
emotional handicaps. She shows exceptional patience and resourcefulness as a teacher there.
3. Stacy is a 10 year old girl with cerebral palsy and significant emotional and behavioral
4. Lutheran Family Services placed Stacy with Ms. Williams with inadequate
preparation for the great difficulty that would be expected in managing Stacy’s behavioral
problems. Stacy had most recently been removed from her grandmother’s home for problems
similar to those encountered in the Williams home.
5. On April 30, 2001, Stacey had yet another difficult day. Ms. Williams was called to
Stacey’s school to take Stacey home because of Stacey’s disruptive behavior. Ms. Williams
picked up Stacey, who continued to behave disruptively and disrespectfully in the car. Ms.
Williams stopped at the grocery store on the way home.
6. In the store, an incident occurred for which Ms. Williams is sorry and for which she
apologized to Stacey. Ms. Williams became so exasperated with Stacey that she said very hurtful
things to Stacey. She should not have said those things. In addition, a bystander and Stacey
accused Ms. Williams of pushing Stacey down and running over her with the shopping cart. This
alleged course of events is inconsistent with Ms. Williams’ character, as portrayed by the
evidence adduced at trial, and seems improbable. Ms. Williams steadfastly denies that any such
thing occurred, while admitting to the things she said to Stacey. Counsel for Respondent stated
that he believed Ms. Williams to have been very honest about the incident. Stacey also accused
Ms. Williams of disciplining her by spraying cleaning solution in her eyes; investigators found
this to be unfounded and found that Ms. Williams’ version of that incident—that she sprayed
clean water out of a spray bottle on Stacey and the other girls as a form of play—to be true.
7. Respondent presented little competent evidence regarding this matter. Its only
witness was Richard Buchanan, an Investigator Supervisor for Gaston County Child Protective
Services. Mr. Buchanan testified to the results of his subordinate’s investigation of this incident,
but testified that he himself not only did not observe any of the relevant events, but did not
perform the investigation. The subordinate who investigated the matter did not appear to testify.
Therefore, virtually all of the relevant testimony of Mr. Buchanan was inadmissible hearsay.
8. During closing arguments, counsel for Respondent stated that he believed that Ms.
Williams had been very honest about this incident, that she was the sort of foster parent the State
needs to have, and that he would not hesitate to place another child with Ms. Williams. Mr.
Buchanan vigorously nodded his agreement with these statements.
CONCLUSIONS OF LAW
Gaston County Social Services erred in substantiating abuse and neglect charges against
Petitioner, and Respondent erred in revoking Petitioner’s Family Foster Home license based
upon that erroneous substantiation.
Respondent shall restore the revoked Family Foster Home License to Petitioner Evelia
Williams. The substantiation by Gaston County Social Services of abuse and neglect charges
against Ms. Williams in connection with the above incident is reversed.
It is hereby ordered that the agency serve a copy of the final decision on the Office of
Administrative Hearings, 6714 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, N.C. 27699-6714, in accordance
with North Carolina General Statute 150B-36(b).
The decision of the Administrative Law Judge in this contested case will be reviewed by
the agency making the final decision according to the standards found in G.S. 150B-36(b)(b1)
and (b2). The agency making the final decision is required to give each party an opportunity to
file exceptions to the decision of the Administrative Law Judge and to present written argument
to those in the agency who will make the final decision. G.S. 150B-36(a).
The agency that will make the final decision in this contested case is the North Carolina
Department of Health and Human Services.
This 15th day of July, 2002.
James L. Conner II
Administrative Law Judge